Tuesday, November 29th | 5 Kislev 5783

February 23, 2020 9:43 pm

Israeli Defense Minister Explains Tough Stance as Iron Dome Moved South After Escalation Following Gaza Border Incident

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Streaks of light are pictured as rockets are launched from the northern Gaza Strip toward Israel, as seen from Sderot, Aug. 8, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Amir Cohen.

Tensions along Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip erupted on Sunday, with the Israeli Air Force striking the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group after a barrage of rockets fired at southern Israeli towns following hours of escalation.

The Israel Defense Forces tweeted on Sunday evening that the targets extended as far as Syria and that 20 rockets had been fired into Israel from Gaza. It said that 10 of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

Tensions first flared on Sunday morning when two Islamic Jihad terrorists were killed attempting to plant an explosive device on the Gaza border fence.

Israeli news website N12 reported that the IDF was then ordered to collect the bodies, but were blocked by a group of Gazans who attempted to remove the corpses first. An IDF bulldozer was then sent in to complete the operation, which proved successful at obtaining one of the bodies.

In a media interview soon afterwards Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett explained the operation, saying the bodies would be used as bargaining chips to gain the release of the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, two IDF soldiers killed in 2014’s Operation Cast Lead, whose bodies are still being held by Hamas.

“What do they want — that I should send flowers to Hamas?” Bennett asked an N12 journalist.

Asked about the video and images of the bulldozer incident that have been distributed online, Bennett said, “I’m fine with the pictures, we’re facing a cruel terror organization that is holding our children’s bodies.”

“There is no nice way to bring our boys home,” he asserted. “I don’t intend to release the terrorists they want me to release.”

“This is the way, not capitulation,” Bennett said.

In response to the incident, both the ruling Gazan terror group Hamas and its local rival Islamic Jihad pledged revenge.

Islamic Jihad said that it would respond by firing rockets at Tel Aviv and pledged that “the hand raised against our people will be cut off by the resistance.”

Hamas stated, “It is upon the Zionist enemy to bear the results” of its “horrific crime.”

N12 also reported that the IDF quickly moved extra Iron Dome batteries into the Gaza border area, a precaution that now appears to have been justified.

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